Colonel William Haskell took on some tough assignments serving with the U.S. Army after World War I. He was placed in charge of relief efforts for Romania and Armenia in 1919.
In Armenia, Herbert Hoover said relief work not only involved feeding the hungry, but overcoming “racial and political antagonisms which were threatening the total annihilation of the Armenian people.”
Haskell was called upon again to coordinate relief operations in Russia during the great famine which started in 1921. Millions of lives were saved from starvation because of the work of the American Relief Administration.
Haskell would later advance to the rank of general. Right before the U.S. entered World War II, Haskell was commanding the New York national guard. During World War II he did some work with civilian defense. His accomplished career in military service though was nearing an end. It might have been time for Haskell to “fade away,” as Douglas MacArthur once described.
It was after World War II that Haskell got called back into service for a program involving a huge stockpile of army rations. What to do with this excess supply of food? The organization CARE (Cooperative of American Remittances to Europe) was developed in 1945. Haskell would become the executive director. CARE’s goal: to feed hungry people in countries suffering after World War II.
People back in the States could purchase these packages and have them forwarded to needy families overseas. President Harry Truman even participated, purchasing a bunch of packages.
Germany was one of the main beneficiaries. General Lucius Clay, who commanded the U.S. military government there, said “When a CARE package arrived the consumer knew it was aid from America and that even the bitterness of war had not destroyed our compassion for suffering.”
The program even evolved to include more than standard army rations. A CARE package for baby food, blankets, clothing, etc. also was developed. The Silent Guest program, unveiled at Thanksgiving 1947, collected donations which were used to buy CARE packages.
Today, the tradition continues in the charity that carries on its name. Also, it exists in other forms like the U.S. Army’s Operation CARE in Afghanistan. Massive hunger, malnutrition and poverty afflict Afghanistan. The soldiers witness these conditions when they visit communities there. Operation CARE offers a way to help.
Do you have baby clothes, shoes, blankets, soap and other items that you can donate? You can pack it up and send it to Operation CARE and soldiers will distribute them to Afghan families.
The World Food Programme, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services and agencies all have ways you can send a CARE package of sorts to help feed the hungry. You can also send one in your local community by contacting Feeding America.
Incidentally, Douglas MacArthur had a massive child feeding program in Japan after the war. What better way for a country to rebuild and prosper than to feed all its children? This lesson from history must never fade away.